Rarely would you see a bearded, bald, brown, skinny boy walk down the ramp in a wedding gown, completed with a veil, at one of the most prestigious fashions shows in the country.
Lakme Fashion Week's Day 1 saw an inclusive fashion show like never before. Chola The Label had sizes for all—thin, not-so-thin and short. Even drag queens walked down the ramp as models for their collection.
The show was named "Bye, Felicia", a phrase used as a dismissal for all those who judge and criticise ones who are different. Aimed at breaking stereotypes, the show had men dress up as women, women sport moustaches and Prateik Babbar walk down as a showstopper with a half-bearded face. Drag was used as a method of self-expression. Bold lips, colourful hair complemented some of the men, while the women had stick-on pouts.
Black, grey and white were the dominant shades. Sohaya Misra, the designer said, "Black and white is what society sees most things as. However, grey is where most people of the society exist, as everyone has quirks, and differences. Judging anything just because it's different is what society tends to do." Her collection boasted of a lot of flowy garments, with layers, capes and frills. "I don't design specifically for men or women," she added. Highlighting gender fluidity, and accepting it as a natural phenomenon is what the collection aimed to do. Most models wore gold-rimmed quirky shaped glasses.
"The jewellery was done by Roma Narsinghani and the glasses were symbolic of the veil over our eyes. It was to mark how people rarely delve deeper to know another person, but criticism comes easy," said Sohaya.
Sohaya feels that we live in a world full of hate and that people are quick to judge. Through the collection, she wanted to negate all of that and promote love for all. "We hope a tiny bit of the idea of gender fluidity has crept into people's minds and it can slowly become normalised."
Nervous, but equally excited, Jason Arland, cross dressed and walked down the ramp, for the first time ever. Donning a wedding gown and walking alongside Prateik as the showstopper signified a landmark moment in his journey which had begun with him distributing cards at Lakme Fashion show, trying to make an identity for himself.
"The outfit made me feel good about myself, even though I have never done something like this before," he said. Most of the models were ones who heard the idea and volunteered to walk.
"The final result was an amalgamation of various people coming together and creating something extraordinary," said Sohaya. "I didn't think Prateik would actually fit in, but he heard the idea and volunteered himself!" For Sushant Divgikar, Mr. Gay 2014, the experience was one of its kind. "I sang in two voices and walked the ramp and the whole experience was so much fun," he laughed. "We wanted to create a show without any labels, or definitions but just fashion and art," he added.
Sohaya's direction to all the models was to walk just as how they are in real life, without any pretense.
Future of Fashion
While the show was a step in the right direction, there's still a long way to go. "One day in the future, I'd want a world where everyone can pick whatever clothes they want, and not be judged for it. A boy might want a low neckline and a girl might like baggy trousers, and it would still all be beautiful," said Sushant. A world where malls are not segmented based on gender is what the ultimate goal would look like according to him.
For Jason, fashion had the power to break all boundaries and get people together on a much larger scale. "Fashion is a space where there can be less questions, and only answers. A space where people can be free and loved," he said. "Fashion has the capability of solving huge problems by simply being a space for celebration."